[Cu0169] Copper in Electrical Contacts

Author: David Chapman

Publication date: 2015

© European Copper Institute

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This publication discusses the nature of the electrical contact and the material properties required for contacts for various applications. Tables of relevant properties of selected contact alloys, carrier and spring materials are given.

Copper has many advantages as a contact material and is present in nearly all electrical contact applications. In many cases, the contacts themselves, as well as the backing material, contact carrier, connections and terminals, are made of copper or copper alloys. Although some applications require precious metal contacts, for economy, the small contact tips are mounted on copper alloy carriers. One of the great advantages of copper is that there is a wide selection of alloys available, combining excellent electrical properties with good mechanical properties.